New Zealand will have a stronger economy if the Maori language is made a compulsory provision in all English medium schools from years one to 13.
That’s the message Nga Kaikokiri Matauranga, a group representing iwi on educational matters, sent to the Government at Waitangi recently.
“There’s overwhelming evidence that Maori children who learn the language do better in life than those who don’t, not just academically but also financially and socially,” says Nga Kaikokiri Matauranga spokesperson Awanui Black.
“Students will not be forced to learn the language if compulsory provision is rolled out, it just means those who want to learn it are given the right to do so.”
The vast majority of Maori students attend English medium schools and almost half of all Maori boys at these schools leave with no qualifications.
Mr Black said he had witnessed first-hand the power of learning the language in helping Maori children, and their families, rise out of poverty and into economic, cultural and social prosperity.
“I’ve seen solo parents on the DPB and others on the dole go back to school and find employment or set up their own businesses because they were inspired to do so by their children learning about their language and culture.
“I’ve also seen companies use Maori language and culture to connect and increase their profits by doing business with major players from established and emerging international economies.
“We have a solution steering us in the face to help address the education system’s failure of Maori children, to lift our country’s economy and reduce the costs of social welfare dependency, and until this solution is made a reality by the Government, we’ll continue to push for the rollout of Maori language provision in all schools.”
Nga Kaikokiri Matauranga also welcomed the State of the Maori Nation speech given by Maori Affairs Minister Dr Pita Sharples at Waitangi.
“The Minister hit the nail on the head when he said we needed to advance our nation’s ‘plural, multi-cultural future’ and revive our language for the ‘sake of our kids,’” says Mr Black.
Nga Kaikokiri Matauranga – Iwi Advocate for Education is a newly formed advocacy group which speaks on educational matters for 60 iwi organisations delivering education and training programmes. They are also the technical advisory group on education to the Iwi Chairs Forum. NKM is developing strategies to lift Maori educational achievement.